No Need to Show Others Treated Better in Discrimination Suit

January 9, 2009 ( - The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled an employee need not present evidence that similarly situated employees received preferential treatment to claim discrimination.

In reversing a lower court ruling, the appellate court said the “‘mosaic’ of evidence, together with the unresolved questions of fact, is sufficient under the direct method of proof for Zafar Hasan to survive summary judgment on his discrimination claims. The court also determined that a reasonable jury could conclude based on the evidence that Hasan was fired because he is Muslim and of Indian descent.

Hasan worked for a law firm in its Business Law Department and always had plenty of work and good performance reviews until the attacks of September 11, 2001.   After the attacks, he claims coworkers made comments that could be construed as racist against Muslims, his workload was decreased, and he received less positive performance appraisals.

The law firm eventually fired him for what it claimed were “deficiencies in performance.” However, when the court found that the evidence showed Hasan’s performance was acceptable, the firm said it fired him because it did not have enough work to warrant keeping him. The appellate court found this not to be true, saying the law firm later hired more employees because it had plenty of work.

The case was remanded back to district court for further proceedings.

The ruling is here .